Hart ends Buchanan title run in quarterfinals
Published 11:19 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023
BANGOR — There are only four happy teams at the end of each girls basketball season. Unfortunately for Buchanan, it will not be one of them.
The state title run for the No. 1-ranked Bucks came to an end at the hands of No. 17-ranked Hart in the Division 3 quarterfinals hosted by Bangor High School Tuesday night.
The 45-41 loss to the Pirates ended a record-setting season for the Bucks, who went undefeated in winning the Lakeland Conference championship, captured its third consecutive district title and won its first regional crown in 22 years.
Along the way, Buchanan won 22 straight games after losing its season opener to Division 2 Vicksburg, which went 22-0 in the regular-season.
Hart opened the scoring with a quick basket, but Buchanan responded with the next five points to make it 5-2. The Pirates rallied back to tie the game at 8-8, but quickly found itself down 10-8 as the Bucks went inside Faith Carson, who gave the Bucks a two-point lead, 10-8.
Buchanan would not give up that lead the remainder of the first half.
The Bucks took a 15-11 advantage into the second quarter, and led 23-19 at halftime.
The Pirates (24-3) took over from there, opening the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 28-25 lead with 4:26 to play in the third quarter. Hart completely dominated both ends of the floor in the third quarter, forcing the Bucks into uncharacteristic mistakes and missed shots. At the other end, Buchanan could not keep the Pirates off the scoreboard, and found itself down 30-26 heading to the fourth quarter.
“I give them a lot of credit defensively,” said Buchanan Coach Gabe Miller. “Aspen I saw her on film and she is a great defender. She does a good job of pushing you off your spots. She might be the best on-the-ball defender we have seen all year, and their rotations were good.”
The Bucks started to whittle away at the Hart lead. Carson’s basket with 44 seconds remaining finally tied the game at 41-41.
From there, Hart turned to its top players to finish the job. Abby Hicks, the Pirates’ leading scorer (14.5 points per game) scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws in the final seconds; Addi Hovey (16.4 points per game), who 4-of-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, including two in the final 20 seconds to seal the deal.
Miller said that you could tell that point guard LaBria Austin was not 100 percent. She injured her ankle in the district tournament and has been battling the injury ever since.
“You could tell she was not feeling good,” he said. “What she has done these past two weeks gutting it out since district has been amazing. We knew we were on limited time and they did a good job taking her away.”
Austin finished with just seven points after scoring a career-high 29 in the regional championship game last Thursday night.
Carson led the Bucks with 22 points. No other Buchanan player had more than four points.
Hicks finished with 17, while Hovey and Mariana VanAgtmael both had 10 points.
Hart now advances to face Hemlock, a 52-37 winner over Elk Rapids in the second semifinal Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
HART 45, BUCHANAN 41
Abby Hicks 17, Chloe Coker 5, Kelsey Copenhaver 0, Mariana VanAgtmael 10, Addi Hovey 10, Aspen Boutell 3. TOTALS: 15 9-16 45
Maddie Young 0, Jillian McKean 0, LaBria Austin 7, Hannah Herman 4, Katie Ailes 2, Alyssa Carson 4, Hannah Tompkins 2, Faith Carson 22. TOTALS: 16 7-9 41
Hart 11 19 30 45
Buchanan 15 23 26 41
3-point baskets: Hart 6 (Hicks 2, VanAgtmael 2, Hovey 1, Coker 1), Buchanan 2 (Herman 1, Austin 1). Total fouls: Hart 11, Buchanan 15. Records: Hart 24-3, Buchanan 23-2